WAT PHONG (วัดโพง)
Wat Phong is a deserted temple located on the city island within the Ayutthaya
Historical Park. It can be easily visited on foot or by bicycle because a brick path passes
beside it. Motor vehicles are not allowed to access it.

This restored ruin was originally constructed toward an east/west axis. On the eastern
side are the remains of a sermon hall. This has greatly eroded to the basic foundation
level, but there are clear outlines of its walls, altar, and some stubs of pillars. The primary
feature of this ruin is its unique chedi. There is no other like it in the city. On one hand, its
niches and indented corner are suggestive of Late Ayutthaya period
Chedi Si Suroyothai.
However, these niches, which are located in each of the cardinal directions, are filled
with standing Buddha images - a characteristic more commonly associated with
Kingdoms to the north. Higher up the chedi, there are stucco figurines of mythological
figures. One of these is remarkable similar to one at
Wat Nok (a Mon site). The upper
level almost takes the shape of a bell, but it is constricted and curved in a way untypical
of the Middle Ayutthaya period. In addition, a small, Late Ayutthaya period chedi is also
in situ. This takes the shape of a Khmer prang. Wat Phong seems to be designed as a
fusion between various cultures of the time.

The history of Wat Phong is unclear. Phraya Boran Rachatanin believed that it was
associated with Mon residents who had a market near this site. It can be confirmed that
Mon people lived in the vicinity. Royal Chronicles point out that a group of Mon settled
at Wat Nok, which is only a stone’s throw away from Wat Phong.

According to the Royal Chronicles, King Maha Thammaracha (r. 1569-1590)
persuaded the family of a highly revered Mon monk - Tera Khan Chong - to live here
around 1584. This honor was in reward for his role in Prince Naresuan’s war for
independence from the Burmese. While still technically allied with the King Honsawadi of
Burma, Prince Naresuan marched his troops to the city of Khraeng, where they
encamped near the monastery of the Great Holy Tera Khan Chong. King Honsawadi, in
the meantime, set up a plan to betray Prince Naresuan - sending out an army of 10,000
to ambush and kill him. Two Mon military leaders, Phraya Kiat and Phraya Ram, were
ordered to attack Prince Naresuan’s troops and execute him (Cushman 88).

However, the Great Holy Tera Khan Chong was informed of this treachery and
supported Prince Naresuan. He arranged a meeting between Phraya Kiat, Phraya Ram,
and Prince Naresuan in which all was revealed. As a result, Prince Naresuan declared
revenge and announced that the two kingdoms "shall be totally divorced from each other
from this day to the end of kalpa." (Cushman 89). He promised to escort the two Mon
leaders and Holy Reverent to the safety of Ayutthaya - fighting against the Burmese
along the way. The relatives of Tera Khan Chong were told to settle in a village behind
Wat Nok (Cushman 90). This Mon areas stretched all the way from Wat Nok to Wat
Phong.

Wat Phong was situated along a road parallel to Khlong Nam Chiaw - a canal leading
from
Khlong Mueang (the old Lopburi River) to Bueng Phra Ram. The water flow of this
canal was regulated by a gate known as Pratu Tasibiay. A portion of the gate’s wall can
still be seen along U-Thong Road. This canal was aligned with a number of temples:
Wat
Chum Saeng, Wat Langkha Khao, Wat Langkha Dam, Wat Sangkha Pat, and Wat Yan
Sen. A moat surrounded Wat Phong, creating a secluded islet. This swampy area (Kham
Pheng Kleaw) was known for its tall grass.

Wat Phong was restored in 1995. Earlier excavations at this monastery revealed brass
containers, spoons, and forks.
Text & photographs by Ken May - August 2009
Addendum

In the text above the author speaks about Khlong Nam Chiao, which water flow was
regulated by Pratu Tasibiay (commonly known as Pratu Tha Sip Bia or the "Gate of the
Ten Cowries Landing"). Khlong Nam Chiao was in fact located more to the west, in
between
Wat Thammikarat and Wat Yan Sen. Wat Phong was situated along a road
parallel to a canal called
Lam Khu Pak Sra, feeding the marshy lake.

Wat Phong is indicated on a
map drafted in the mid-19th century and on Phraya Boran
Rachathanin's (PBR) map of 1926. The mid-19th century map indicates the existence of
a prang. Wat Phong is of course also found on Fine Arts Department maps drafted in
1957, 1974, 1993 and 2005.

The "Master Plan for Tourism Development of Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya and the
Neighbouring Provinces" mentions that there were no remains of this temple. The
document stipulates that there were only three temples left in
Bueng Phra Ram in 1988,
all in poor condition, being:
Wat Nok, Wat Song Pat (likely Wat Sangkha Pat) and Wat
Langkha Dam. The ruin of Wat Phong we see today, must have been completely
reconstructed. [1]

I am not convinced that the ruin, the Fine Arts Department (FAD) indicates as Wat
Phong, was the original location. The monastery is positioned on the south side of
Fire
Street on Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map. PBR only indicates on the north side a small
islet without a temple.

If we look into the earlier FAD maps of 1957, 1974 and 1993, we can see clearly that
Wat Phong is situated south of Fire Street; in an identical position as on PBR's map; an
area covered in vegetation today. The reconstructed site of Wat Phong on the north side
of Fire Street, is likely historically not correct and could have been the site of
Wat
Talapat.

The ruin is situated in Geo Coord: 14° 21' 18.65" N, 100° 33' 58.65" E.

In the Late Ayutthaya Period there were shops of Thai and Mon selling bowls, trays,
salvers and all kinds of brassware behind Wat Nok and in front of Wat Phong. In the
area there was also a fresh market called the Mon Market.

References:

[1] Master Plan for Tourism Development of Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya and the
Neighbouring Provinces - Tourism Authority of Thailand - 6 August 1988 -  page 4-58.
[2] Markets and Production in the City of Ayutthaya before 1767: Translation and
Analysis of Part of the Description of Ayutthaya - Chris Baker - Journal of the Siam
Society, Vol. 99, 2011 - page 65.
Addendum & maps by Tricky Vandenberg - January 2011
Reviewed May 2012, January & March 2013
(Extract of a mid-19th century map)
(Extract of Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map drafted
in 1926)
(Extract of a 1974 Fine Arts Department map -
Courtesy Dr. Surat Lertlum, Chulachomklao Royal
Military Academy)
(Extract of a 1957 Fine Arts Department map)
(Extract of a 1993 Fine Arts Department map -
Courtesy Khun Supot Prommanot, Director of the 3th
Regional Office of Fine Arts)
(Extract of a 2005 GIS Fine Arts Department map)
Restoration work at Wat Phong
(Photographs by Tricky Vandenberg)